James H. Rothenberger, III, age 61, of Minneapolis passed away December 8, 2008 at Fairview Univiersity Medical Center. Prof. Rothenberger was awarded the title Morse Alumni Distinguished Teaching instructor of Public Health, one of the highest honors the University of Minnesota bestows on its educators. He was a mentor, favorite teacher and great friend to many. Private funeral services will be held in Grand Marais, Minnesota. The School of Public Health and the University scheduled a public memorial service to be held from 3 – 5 pm in the Mayo Auditorium at the University of Minnesota on February 12, 2009.
Rothenberger, James Henry III, age 61, of Minneapolis, MN, Morse Alumni Distinguished Teaching Instructor of Public Health, died December 8, 2008 after an extended illness. He was faculty of the University of Minnesota School of Public Health – Division of Epidemiology and Community Health since 1972, and over the course of 35 years, taught roughly 100,000 students and received a number of the University’s teaching and service awards.
Rothenberger was born July 23, 1947 in Minneapolis, MN and attended the University of Minnesota, as his father and grandfather had done before him. He received his BA in political science with minors in history and sociology in 1969 and his Masters in Public Health in 1979. A popular teacher of undergraduate courses, he taught six to eight classes per semester in Public Health, Alcohol and Drug Abuse, HIV/AIDS and Death and Dying.
Rothenberger taught the state-required course on drug and alcohol abuse for teachers at both the U of M and St. Thomas University. In 1999, he became one of the first faculty members in the School of Public Health to take a course on-line by developing an on-line version of his alcohol and drug course for teachers. In 2002, he delved further into online education and developed a course for incoming freshmen, Alcohol and College Life. The course proved popular not only within the University system classes were offered on the Twin Cities, Crookston and Duluth campuses – but was also extended to other schools throughout the region. For the past three years, the on-line course has been required for all incoming freshmen at Minnesota State University Moorhead. It is also taught at Inver Hills Community College and the University of North Dakota.
Rothenberger taught one of the first university classes on HIV/AIDS and from 1988-2000 was site director for the Midwest AIDS Training and Education Center. Additionally, he made 20-30 presentations per year on alcohol, drug and HIV/AIDS issues to local groups and national conventions. He received a Certification in Thantology (CT) from the Association for Death Education and Counseling in 2003, one of the first teachers to do so.
Rothenberger’s teaching skills won him the Gordon Starr Outstanding Faculty Award in 1981, followed by the SPH Schuman Outstanding Teacher Award (1986), the Minnesota Alumni Association Horace T. Morse Award for Outstanding Teaching (1992), the President’s Award for Outstanding Service (1999), the Charles N. Hewitt Creative Teaching Award (2001), and the University of Minnesota Outstanding Community Service Award (2007), among others. Outside agencies also recognized his achievements; he was elected a Fellow in the American College Health Association in 1999 and received the Gail Profitt Award for Outstanding Commitment and Service to College Health from the North Central College Health Association in 2005.
Rothenberger touched many lives as a passionate teacher and mentor. He had a unique way of relating life experiences with course content. Students greatly enjoyed his stories and personal style of teaching. He was an inspiration for many to pursue careers in public health and related fields. He was a lifelong devoted teacher who will be deeply missed.
Rothenberger is survived by his mother, Merna, sister, Jane, many close friends, and many of the students he taught. He was preceded in death by his father, James II.
Private funeral services were held in his beloved Grand Marais, MN. The School of Public Health and the University of Minnesota will plan a memorial service for early 2009 celebrating his life and achievements. Details are forthcoming. Please visit http://blog.lib.umn.edu/sphpod/news/2008/12/remembering_jim_rothenberger.html to post your remembrances of Rothenberger, and sign up to receive email updates about the memorial service.
In lieu of flowers, donations can be made in Rothenberger’s name to the School of Public Health to promote public health education. Please specify: SPH Endowed Scholarship, MMF fund #7030. To donate online visit http://www.mmf.umn.edu/give/index.cfm.